The Value of Outdoor Education to Your Students and School’s Curriculum

NCOAE Headquarters

February 22, 2024

For as long as we can remember, private and independent schools have recognized the transformative power of experiential learning, and that’s particularly true when it involves outdoor and adventure-based activities. While all educators are trained and encouraged to seek innovative ways to engage students in their own education, private and independent schools have traditionally been more likely to partner with an organization like ours to create a custom outdoor program that reinforces their curriculum and culture.

Here at The National Center for Outdoor Adventure and Education (NCOAE), we assist all types of schools — including private and independent ones — to seamlessly incorporate outdoor and adventure-based experiential education into their curricula. 

Students standing in circle in clearing during NCOAE training

By exploring the benefits, practical considerations, and implementation strategies, we work closely with these schools to enhance their educational offerings. And when we succeed, we find we have awakened and nurtured a sense of adventure in their students. In addition, we have supported the development of well-rounded youth who are better equipped for success in academics, peer interactions, and the communities in which they live.

Benefits for Students

Participation in our highly customized and curriculum-based outdoor education programs contributes to higher student retention rates, higher grade averages, and positive changes in a student’s  “Five C’s” — Competence, Character, Connection, Confidence, and Caring.

At NCOAE, our custom programs for private, independent, and even open enrollment summer camp expeditions for teens are built on our Theory of Change:

Self + Community + Action = Impact

We believe that teaching the skills, and facilitating learning that establishes a secure sense of self, empowers youth to contribute to a healthy and supportive community. This in turn fosters an exceptional environment for learning and creates a positive impact in their communities.

Specifically, when students participate in an NCOAE outdoor education program or summer camp expedition, they, their teachers, and even their parents tell us that they benefit from:

  • Challenging adventures
  • Curriculum-based lessons
  • Enhanced health and safety measures
  • Acquisition of new or improved outdoor skills
  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Safety and risk-management training 
  • Bonding experiences with classmates and peers
  • Memories to last a lifetime

To learn more about the benefits of our outdoor experiential education programs for teenage students, read our previous post, “Benefits To Leadership-Based Summer Camp for Teens.”

The Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and NCOAE

Recently, NCOAE participated in the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. SAIS is “a professional organization that helps independent schools of all sizes, and their leaders, stretch their potential through industry-leading accreditation, resources, and professional programs.”

NCOAE staffers Cameron “Cam” Francisco (Associate Director of Outdoor Education) and Allie Hilbruner (Director of Admissions and Office Administration) met with school leaders from across the southeast to discuss the latest trends and issues facing private and independent schools. They shared how an NCOAE custom program can be a highly effective way to engage and support student academic growth and personal development. 

Prior to joining our team at NCOAE, Cam spent 19 years as an independent school educator and administrator in numerous roles, including Middle School Division Director, Curriculum Coordinator, Director of Student and Academic Life, and Director of Communications.

Through our active participation in SAIS and other organizations like it, we seek to be more than just a vendor to the private and independent school sector. Instead, we advocate for, and work closely with, the education community to engender our vision of a world supported by institutions and individuals that are naturally inclined to serve one another while protecting the natural environment.

Serving the private and independent school sector demands that we function at the top of our game. That means walking our talk when it comes to delivering educational and personal development content and experiences that meet the unique needs of school administrators, their boards of directors, their educators, and their students.

Whether it’s a custom outdoor education program for an entire grade — one that reinforces classroom learning — or an open enrollment spot in one of our teen summer camp expeditions, NCOAE is fully engaged and ready to support private and independent schools and their students. 

To find out more about our outdoor experiential education programs for teenagers, read our previous post “Exploring 2024 Summer Camp Experiences for Teens” or contact us for additional information and guidance for your school.

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